Current Affairs 17th august,2018

1.GLOBAL LIVEABILITY INDEX

GS 1 DEMOGRAPHIC ISSUES

The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) has released the Global Liveability Index 2018. The index ranks 140 global cities based on their living conditions.

PRELIMS

The liveability index quantifies the challenges that might be presented to an individual’s lifestyle in 140 cities worldwide, and assesses which locations provide the best living conditions.

PARAMETERS OF THE GLOBAL LIVEABILITY INDEX:

The list ranks 140 cities on a range of factors, including:

  • Political and social stability
  • Crime
  • Education
  • Access to healthcare.

The survey rates cities worldwide based on 30 qualitative and quantitative criteria, which fall into five general categories:

  • Stability
  • Health care
  • Culture and environment.
  • Education
  • Infrastructure

Key fact​s:

  • This year too, not a single US city could make it into the top 10 cities.
  • It is the first time that a European city has topped the rankings.
  • Security has improved in “several western European cities” and Vienna’s top place reflects “a relative return to stability across much of Europe”.
  • South Asian countries including India have fared poorly in the ranking of the world’s most liveable cities.
  • Pakistan’s financial capital Karachi and Bangladesh’s capital Dhaka are among the world’s least liveable cities.

For India, only New Delhi and Mumbai could make it to the list with:

  • New Delhi at 112th position.
  • Mumbai at 117th position.

2.NPCI LAUNCHES UPI 2.0

GS 2 GOVERNANCE

National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) has launched UPI 2.0, an upgraded and renewed version of Unified Payments Interface (UPI).

PRELIMS

NPCI

National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) is an umbrella organization for all retail payments system in India.

It was set up with the guidance and support of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and Indian Banks’ Association (IBA).

It was incorporated as a Section 25 company under Companies Act 1956 (now Section 8 of Companies Act 2013) and is aimed to operate for the benefit of all the member banks and their customers.

UPI

The Unified Payments Interface (UPI) is a system developed by the NPCI and the RBI to aid instant transfer of money using a cashless system.

Using UPI services, one just requires a smartphone and a banking app to send and receive money instantly or to pay a merchant for retail purchase. In the long run, UPI is likely to replace the current NEFT, RTGS, and IMPS systems as they exist today.

NEW FEATURES:

The latest edition has 4 new features to make it attractive and safer for users.

linking overdraft account to UPI,

creation of one-time mandates and

pre-authorisation of transactions for payment at later date and checking the invoice sent by merchant prior to making payment.

3. INTERNATIONAL NITROGEN INITIATIVE

GS 2 INTERNATIONAL ORGANISTAION,FORA,AGENCIES

Indian scientist Nandula Raghuram has been elected as the Chair of the International Nitrogen Initiative (INI), a global policy making initiative. He is the first Indian and Asian to be elected to the Chair of INI.

PRELIMS

NITROGEN

Nitrogen is one of the five major chemical elements that are necessary for life. While nitrogen is the most abundant of these, more than 99% of it occurs as molecular nitrogen, or N2, which cannot be used by most organisms.

Most living organisms can only make use of reactive nitrogen, which includes inorganic forms of nitrogen like ammonia, ammonium, nitrogen oxide, nitric acid, nitrous oxide, and nitrate, and organic compounds like urea, amines, proteins, and nucleic acids.

INI

The International Nitrogen Initiative (INI) is an international program, set up in 2003 under sponsorship of the Scientific Committee on Problems of the Environment (SCOPE) and from the International Geosphere-Biosphere Program (IGBP).

The initiative aims to optimise nitrogen’s beneficial role in sustainable food production and minimise nitrogen’s negative effects on human health.

INI is coordinated by a Steering Committee, led by a chair and six regional centre directors representing, Africa, Europe, Latin America, North America, South Asia and East Asia.

Holds a conference once in every three years

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WHAT IS THE NEED OR SCOPE OF INI?

In the pre-human world, a small amount of usable reactive nitrogen was created from N2 by lightening and biological nitrogen fixation, but the spread of reactive nitrogen was held in check by denitrification, a process that converts reactive N back to N2.

This is no longer the case. Human beings have dramatically altered the nitrogen balance. We have done so by cultivating legumes, rice, and other crops that promote nitrogen fixation, by burning fossil fuels, and by transforming nonreactive atmospheric nitrogen to ammonia to sustain food production and some industrial processes.

The global increase of reactive nitrogen by all human sources has far outstripped production from all natural terrestrial systems, and since the 1960s, the rate of increase has accelerated sharply.

This unprecedented growth in reactive nitrogen has impacted the health and welfare of people and ecosystems worldwide. On the positive side, approximately 40 percent of the world’s population is fed by crops sustained by human-induced formation of reactive nitrogen.

4.LASER INTERFEROMETER GRAVITATIONAL WAVE OBSERVATORY (LIGO) PROJECT

GS 3 SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

Gravitational wave observatory, LIGO – may come up in Maharashtra’s Hingoli district with this a new gravitational wave detector to measure ripples in the fabric of space and time is set to be built in India by 2025

PRELIMS

Three American physicists Rainer Weiss, Kip Thorne and Barry Barish won the Nobel Prize (2017)for their contribution towards Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory, or LIGO, experiment.

Currently LIGO operates three gravitational wave detectors-One is at Livingston in Louisiana and other two are at Hanford in Washington and the detectors are located about 3,000 km apart in L shape.

LIGO

It is a large scale physics experiment observatory established in 2002 to detect gravitational waves.

The present telescopes could detect objects which emit electromagnetic radiations like X-ray, gamma rays etc. However, merger of black holes and many other cataclysmic events do not emit electromagnetic waves rather gravitational waves.

Thus, LIGO was established to unfold the many unknown phenomenon in universe through the gravitational waves detection.

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India and LIGO

Indian participation in the LIGO Scientific Collaboration, was done under the umbrella Initiative –IndIGO, which is a consortium of Indian gravitational-wave physicists.

Hosting such a detector in India, scientists have said, will improve the odds of detecting more such phenomena.

The proposed LIGO-India project aims to move one Advanced LIGO detector from Hanford to India. The LIGO-India project is an international collaboration between the LIGO Laboratory and three lead institutions in the LIGO-India consortium: Institute of Plasma Research, Gandhinagar; IUCAA, Pune; and Raja Ramanna Centre for Advanced Technology, Indore.

The project, piloted by the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) and Department of Science and Technology (DST), reportedly costs ₹1,200 crore and is expected to be ready by 2025.

5. INTERNATIONAL YEAR OF MILLETS

GS 3 AGRICULTURE

Continuing its efforts to get ‘millets’ a global recognition for its promotion among consumers, India has written to Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations proposing declaration of the upcoming year as “International Year of Millets”.

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MILLETS

Millet is a common term to categorize small-seeded grasses that are often termed nutri-cereals or dryland-cereals, and includes sorghum, pearl millet, ragi, small millet, foxtail millet, proso millet, barnyard millet, kodo millet and other millets.

BENEFITS

An important staple cereal crop for millions of small holder dryland farmers across sub-saharan Africa and Asia, millets offer nutrition, resilience, income and livelihood for farmers even in difficult times.

They have multiple untapped uses such as food, feed, fodder, biofuels and brewing.

Nutritionally superior to wheat & rice

The anaemia (iron deficiency), B-complex vitamin deficiency, pellagra (niacin deficiency) can be effectively tackled

Photo-insensitive & resilient to climate change, millets are hardy, resilient crops that have a low carbon and water footprint, can withstand high temperatures and grow on poor soils with little or no external inputs.

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Significance of the move

Adoption of this proposal by FAO with the support of its member nations will enable it to be moved to the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) for declaration of the upcoming year as International Year of Millets.

Dedicating a year for millets will not only increase awareness about its health benefits, but also result in higher demand for these drought-resistant varieties, resulting in remunerative prices for poor and marginal farmers.

Efforts by government to promote millets:

In order to promote ‘millets’, India had on its part notified these climate resilient crops as “Nutri-Cereals” and allowed its inclusion in the Public Distribution System (PDS) for improving nutritional support in April.

Recognising millets’ anti-diabetic properties, the notification called it a “powerhouse of nutrients” and identified several varieties of millets for promotion. The millets in the category of “Nutri-Cereals” include Sorghum (Jowar), Pearl Millet (Bajra), Finger Millet (Ragi), Foxtail Millet (Kangani/Kakun) and Buckwheat (Kuttu) among others.

Besides, the government had in July substantially hiked the minimum support price (MSP) of millets so that more and more farmers may opt for cultivation of these less water consuming crops.

6.TURKEY CRISES AND ITS IMPACT

GS 2 INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS AND

GS 3 ECONOMY

Trade wars between Turkey and USA has lead to a currency crisis for Turkish Lira.

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WHY CRISIS IN TURKEY?

US has doubled steel and aluminium tariffs on Turkey, as US has been pushing for the release of Pastor Andrew Brunson, who was being held by Turkey on terrorism charges.

Turkey retaliated by increasing import taxes on US goods, such as automobiles by 120 per cent, alcohol by 140 per cent and tariffs on coal, cosmetics and rice.

The Turkish currency, lira has fell steep (depreciating around 80 percent against the US dollar so far in 2018) – This has rattled investors globally, with the currencies of other emerging markets too coming under pressure.

High debt – Turkey’s economy is grappling with high levels of debt in the private sector and significant foreign funding in the banking system.

ITS IMPACT:

Indian markets along with some Asian markets have seen some volatility due to the Lira crisis.

This is typical as foreign investors will fear higher risk assets in emerging markets and will dump the local currency for US Dollars.

In other words, the foreign funds that freely flowed into emerging markets may dry up.

India is less vulnerable relative to other emerging markets (EMs) in terms of external debt and current account deficit. But if the crisis continues, it could hurt India.

India’s exports would slow down if the global situation deteriorates.

7.IMPACT OF FALLING INDIAN CURRENCY

GS 3 INDIAN ECONOMY

We read why rupee falls and also meanings of terms – appreciation, depreciation, devaluation, revaluation and conversion rate etc

ANALYSIS (Why is the rupee falling continuously?)

Rupee fall inflates crude purchase cost – India’s crude oil import bill is likely to jump as the rupee’s drop to a record low.

This will in turn lead to an increase in the retail selling price of petrol, diesel and cooking gas (LPG).

Rupee depreciation will result in higher earnings for exporters.

IMPORTANT ARTICLES OF THE DAY

PRELIMS - 1,2,3,4,5

MAINS  - 3,4,5,6,7